I recently completed a carving called Flow Back, inspired by the return of the wild Atlantic salmon to the Connecticut River. I read (this article) about how, against all odds, several salmon had returned to spawn last November after an absence of 200 years, even after a decades-long effort to return the fish to the river had been abandoned in 2012. I used this story of the resiliency of nature as the inspiration for the design for Flow Back, using elements of the La Tène style to create spiraling elements to capture the energy reflected in this species drive to survive.
I created this piece in Honduran mahogany using traditional wood carving methods. My use of power tools is minimal – in this carving I used a band saw to cut the shape of the wood from a planed board. All other work was done using hand tools – files, gouges, chisels and carving knives – to complete the carving. My method of working creates a carving that is finished from the tool – meaning there is no sanding of the wood to finish the piece, only the individual cuts from the sharp tools. This leaves a subtly rippled texture to the surface of the wood that can best be appreciated in raking light. The carving is sealed with linseed oil, with a coating of bees wax to protect the finish.
The finished carving measures 16″ wide by 19″ high and is 1 1/8″ thick. It is approximately life size when measured along the full length of the fish.
The photo gallery below documents the stages of the carving process: